Google used AI to sort millions of historical Life photos you can explore online

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The photographers of the now defunct Life magazine produced some of the most emblematic images of the 20th century and left an archive of around 6.5 million photos. It is an important historical artifact, but it represents a great challenge for any human being who wants to catalog and explore it. That's why Google has devoted itself to the subject and announced today that it has used its artificial intelligence skills to create life labels: a new archive of Life photographs that can be searched.
It is an impressive feat and presents hundreds of interesting labels, from abbey to aikido, and sailboats to Samoyeds. It is also a bit slow to load, makes easy mistakes (check the label "computer" and get many pictures of pianos, for example), and omits many useful categories, including the photographer, the date and who appears in each image. The latter would have required a bit of additional analysis, but Google certainly knows how to do facial recognition. See, for example, the Arts & Culture app, which became a surprise hit in January when it allowed users to combine their selfies with famous portraits.

Art Palette allows you to combine the colors of the photos you upload with those of famous works of art.

In fact, the launch of Life Tags is part of the same initiative that accelerated art and culture, since Google uses its experience in AI and machine learning to give new life to its artistic projects. Along with Life Tag, the company also presented a feature called Art Palette, available on the web or in the Arts & Culture application, which allows you to explore paintings, sculptures and textiles based on the colors of the images you upload or adjust. For designers and artists (or only the artistically curious), it's a fun little project.
As always, with Google's extracurricular AI work (including its musical experiments and free educational courses), the intent behind these products looks like a mix of curiosity, philanthropy and marketing. But hey, we can explore some great photos and works of art too.


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